Afghanistan uber-expert Steve Coll of the New Yorker pushes back on a quietly emerging view that, if the alternative is another possible Iraq-like quagmire, maybe we don't need to crush the Taliban after all:

This line of thinking has obvious appeal after the Bush Administration’s policies of operatic overreach, but it is erroneous for two reasons. First, the Taliban are not indigenous to Afghanistan—their history and their present strength cannot be assessed in isolation from their relationship with the Pakistani state and other radical elements inside Pakistan. They are partially an Afghan problem and increasingly a Pakistani problem, too. Second, the Taliban are now so large and diverse, and have been so much changed by the international environment in which they fight today, that to generalize about their strategic intentions is to, well, guess, as we did, unsuccessfully, in the run up to September 11th. Are most Taliban local in their orientation and grievances? Sure. Are some interested in overthrowing the Pakistani state, which is endowed with nuclear weapons? Apparently. Do a few of them, like Al Qaeda, consider the United States as a legitimate Far Enemy, worthy of determined raid or two? I should think so, given the number of Taliban we have locked up at Guant